I tried to ask the tough questions of critics for David Rosenvall’s Baja Theory of the Book of Mormon.  He gave me a very interesting answer with regards to the Book of Mormon’s DNA problem, but felt his solution for the animal problem was a little short.  I asked David how he explains why Native Americans have Asian DNA rather than Middle Eastern.  (Click here to listen.)  He turned to the Book of Ether for his explanation.

If you go back to the Book of Ether we know that story happened long before Lehi and his descendants.  We’re talking probably the Tower of Babel.  At that time there was a family, Jared and his family, and the brother of Jared and his family, and their friends, so a large group of people left where we think the Tower of Babel was.  We assume that it was down in the area of Iraq today.  In the Book of Ether it states that they went northward.  From there they crossed into a quarter where man had never been and they built boats and crossed some large inland sea.  After they crossed this inland sea with boats they built all by themselves, it says the Lord wanted them to continue on to the Promised Land.  Eventually they got to a great sea, they called it, and they camped near a mountain.

Well it just so happens if you want to go look on Google Earth, there’s only one mountain on the entire eastern seaboard of China today, and it’s actually the birthplace of Taoism.  It’s almost the birthplace of China. So we have this large group of people that came across from Tower of Babel and settled on the seashore.  Four years after they had been there, the Lord had chastised them for not praying and Ether goes and builds these boats and he needs instructions on how to build them.  They’re a little different than the boats they built before.  He says they built eight boats.  Those eight boats then take 345 days I believe it is, or about that, to cross over to wherever they got to.  It just so happens that the ocean currents across the northern Pacific without a sail take about exactly that time.

He mentioned that the recent tsunami from Japan brought items to the U.S. west coast about a year later.  The ocean currents will take objects that way naturally.

Do you remember when they had the tsunami in Japan?  I think it was about five or six years ago, something like that.  One of the things that was most interesting, about a year after that, docks and soccer balls and toys, things that could float started ending up from Vancouver all the way down to Los Angeles.  They would get washed up on the shore.  There’s a neat little story about a soccer ball that arrived and it had the boy’s name on it and they were able to get it back to the boy.  Those items took almost a year, so the current is perfect for the timing to get across if you don’t have a sail on your boat.

I thought it was an interesting explanation, and one I had never heard before.  Have you ever heard the Jaredites travelled through China, picked up Asian DNA and brought it to America?  What do you think of this explanation?

Concerning animals, I thought there were a few problems though.  Critics have long alleged there were no horses or elephants in the Americas.  David responded:

David:  Very scientific.  I assume you’re familiar with the La Brea Tar Pits.  Have you heard of them?

GT:  I have heard of them but I don’t think they date to Book of Mormon times, do they?[1]

David:  Well we don’t know what time they were, but let me just use that as a starting point.  The La Brea Tar Pits are an interesting sample along the western side just north of Baja California where animals in that climate in that area came to drink, got caught, died.  So they have this whole array of animal bones there.  A couple of animals in there are very unique:  camels are found in there, elephants are found in there, all of the animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon are found in the La Brea Tar Pits.  Just a little while ago while they were digging the subway in Los Angeles, this is just last November 2016, a big article in the LA Times,Elephant Found[2] in that area, not woolly mammoth, elephant.

When we look at animals, we look for the plausibility of the animals in the area.  This is becoming very geographic, which is biogeography.  You can account for every animal in the Book of Mormon in Baja today, even there have been digs, farmers digging and come across full on elephants and camel bones, even as of 10 years ago. When you walk into their museums, they have dioramas of horses, elephants and all those animals in those areas, even they are not in the others.  So this is one of the things that getting a lot of people at BYU excited, gets us excited, is the Baja has been forgotten.

However, there’s a big problem with this theory.  As I mentioned in my question, these animals date several millennia before the Book of Mormon.

[1] A cursory glance at Wikipedia notes “Among the prehistoric species associated with the La Brea Tar Pits are Pleistocene mammoths, dire wolves, short-faced bears, ground sloths, and the state fossil of California, the saber-toothed cat (Smilodon fatalis).

Only one human has been found, a partial skeleton of the La Brea Woman[18] dated to approximately 10,000 calendar years (~9,000 radiocarbon years) BP,[19] who was 17 to 25 years old at death[20] and found associated with remains of a domestic dog, and so was interpreted to have been ceremonially interred.[21] John C. Merriam of the University of California led much of the early work in identifying species in the early 20th century.

The park is known for producing myriad mammal fossils dating from the last glacial period.”  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Brea_Tar_Pits#Flora_and_fauna retrieved July 9, 2016.

Furthermore,

[2] Title of article dated November 30, 2016 is “Remains of ancient elephant unearthed at L.A. subway excavation site” and states “The mammal fossils that were found are at least 10,000 years old and are from the ice age, Sotero said. Further analysis of the teeth will help paleontologists identify what type of ancient elephant it was, Sotero said.”  See http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-ice-age-20161130-story.html retrieved on July 9, 2016.

So while he may have solved the DNA problem (and I think there is still some debate as to whether that issue is solved), the animals remain a big problem for American geography models for the Book of Mormon.  What do you think of these explanations?